Jihadist Fundamentalism is re-opening the debate on the Islamic Scriptures’ Interpretation

This article was published in Oasis 23. Read the table of contents

Last update: 2022-04-22 09:19:47



The Conflict of Interpretations, Michele Brignone




Reading the Qur’an in the Twenty-first Century, Abdullah Saeed

The modern era has witnessed the re-emergence of a strongly literalist approach to Scripture that emphasises certain understanding handed down by the tradition to the detriment of other readings. And yet many scholars maintain that it is necessary to consider the context in which Muslims are living.


Sharia, a Divine Path Constructed by Men, Mohammed Hocine Benkheira

The Muslims' Holy Book is a "mirror-book": the meanings promoted by the exegetes lie not in the text but, rather, in an interaction between the text and the exegetes' own experience. The legal rules are not obtained by way of a simple reading.


The Imams Who Make the Book Speak, Mathieu Terrier

According to the Shi'a, the imam is the only person who may legitimately interpret the sacred Text. Without the imam's hermeneutics, the Book does not mean anything; it is a "mute Qur'an." It is the imam who renders it intelligible and it is for this reason that he is called the "speaking Qur'an."


The Mysticism That Lies Beyond the Letter, Denis Gril

The spiritual interpretation of the Qur'an is an inexhaustible well-spring, fed just as much by the text as by the Sufi tradition, which has always sought the source of its inspiration in the Revelation.


Does the Qur’an Contradict Itself?, Michel Cuypers

The theory of the abrogation of the Qur'an by the Qur'an itself has a long history in Islamic tradition and continues to find wide-ranging currency in preaching nowadays. A literary analysis of the text shows the theory to be without foundation, however.


Salafi Source Readings between al-Qaeda and the Isis, Joas Wagemakers

Salafis and their readings of the sources are not as straightforward as they may seem, because the text does not necessarily result in a clear-cut and obvious interpretation. Even within the most violent religious extremist currents there are important differences.


When Science Reads the Qur’an, Chiara Pellegrino

It is called tafsīr ‘ilmī  in Arabic and it breaks a centuries-old tradition dominated by a tendency to absolutize the interpretation established by the Forebears. This type of exegesis favours readings that also borrow from other disciplines and seeks (with bizarre results) to demonstrate that the contents of the Revelation are in agreement with the discoveries of science.


The Sayings of the Prophet and the Fortunes of Salafism, Roberto Tottoli

Although subject to different trends and assessments, hadīths continue to play a leading part in contemporary Islam and are an inescapable point of reference for every aspect in the life of believers and the community.


The Caliphate is not a Matter of Faith, Ridwan Al-Sayyid

Most Muslims have never been subjected to the authority of a caliph, in any era. The discourse of the "Islamic state" as a legitimate state is a recent ideology that emerged between the 1930s and the 1960s.


The Paradox of Political Islam, Leïla Babès

Islam's Founding Texts reveal the requirement to establish a divine order but no man is vested with the authority to do so. Indeed, government belongs to God alone: an ideology that has inspired numerous extremist movements.






At the Heart of Sunnism: The first Interpreter is the Prophet, Then His Companions, Martino Diez

A Guide to Reading the Qur’an, Texts by Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūtī

Anyone wishing to interpret the Noble Book "must seek its explanation first of all in the Qur'an itself." In particular, knowing the circumstances of the prophetic revelation is "an art that offers several benefits," as it is essential to its full understanding.


The Qur'an: still New after Many Centuries, Michele Brignone

“Life in the Shade of the Qur’an”, Writings by Ridā, Qutb, and Abū Zayd

To understand the Book in its religious dimention; expose the corruption of those who love their low desires more than God; anaylise the sacred Text as a communicative relationship between God and men: the approaches of three Muslim thinkers of the modern era.





The Indonesian Alternative, Rolla Scolari

Religious leaders in the world's most populous Muslim nation explain why relatively few young people are heading to the front lines in Syria and Iraq. Fear of radicalization and new recruits remains very real.





The Conflict Between Modern Reason and Theological Reason, Michele Brignone

The challenge of interpreting Islamic tradition.


When Believers Became Muslims, Martino Diez

How Muhammad's movement became Islam.


Jihadism: the Last Totalitarianism of the Twentieth Century, Chiara Pellegrino

The origins and nature of extremist militancy explained by three experts.


From “Paper State” to “Islamic State”, Editorial staff

A tour of the Islamic State's history and ideology.


To Destroy Monuments is to Destroy a People, Rolla Scolari

Syria robbed of the ties to her past.


The West Censors While Muslim Directors Explore, Emma Neri

Religions, violence and terrorism at the cinema.




Year 12 No. 23 July 2016


Rolla Scolari

Scientific Editor
Martino Diez 

Managing Editor
Michele Brignone

Editorial staff
Chiara Pellegrino


Editorial Consultants
Rifaat Bader - Marco Bardazzi - Bernardo Cervellera - Camille Eid - Rafic Greiche - Claudio Lurati


Graphic Design and Layout 
Massimiliano Frangi


English translation
Catharine De Rienzo and Associazione Milano Interpreti

Oasis is also available in Italian, French and Arabic 

Cover price: Italy €15,00 [abroad €19,00]
Yearly subscription: Italy €25,00 [abroad €35,00]
Three-year subscription Italy €65,00 [abroad €85,00]

Oasis is also available in pdf and ePub
Yearly digital subscription: €14,99 [2 issues]

Information on subscriptions and back issues
tel. +39 041 53.121.00 / +39 02 
by Marsilio Editori spa in Venice
First edition: July 2015

This edition of Oasis was realized with the support of Fondazione Cariplo